Sabers sweep Spartans in boys/girls hoops twinbill

AMHERST – Mike Heaney couldn’t help but reflect when asked about his team’s slow start to Friday’s game.

The Souhegan High School girls basketball team trailed Milford 11-2 early in the second quarter, and was struggling mightily to score, rebound and keep pace at both ends of the floor.

As recently as two years ago, Heaney said he probably would’ve panicked under such adversity. But on a team with nine seniors, Heaney and the Sabers were confident a rally was coming.

It didn’t take long, either.

Souhegan scored 18 consecutive points from midway through the second quarter to early in the third to earn a 37-26 win in a big, early-season Division II matchup.

“That’s the benefit of having such an experienced team,” Heaney said. “We just relaxed and kept working. Milford came out really physical and intense, and we had to match that. Once we started matching that we got back into it.

“What I was really proud of was that no one tried to do it themselves. Nobody was jacking up 3s, and we started to get back into it on the defensive side.”

The Sabers got an array of key contributions, most notably from Camden Formby-Lavertu (13 points), who sparked Souhegan offensively at crucial times, and Mickenzie Larivee (nine points).

Defensively, the Sabers forced Milford into contested shots, while the Spartans’ only real offensive production came from Jennifer Dupuis, who scored eight of her team-high 11 points in the first quarter. Milford’s next highest scorer was Brianna Hoffman with four points.

Despite trailing for the entire second half, the Spartans stayed within reach into the game’s final minutes.

Milford cut the Souhegan lead to five points three different times in the fourth quarter, but the Sabers responded each time.

Hoffman hit a pair of free throws to cut the Spartans deficit to 31-26 with less than two minutes to play. Milford regained possession off a Souhegan miss, but Jessica Ryan was called for a charge while driving to the rim. Larivee answered by hitting an open 3-pointer with 1:06 left in the game to extend the Sabers lead to 35-26, putting the game out of reach.

“Even in the last four or five minutes when we were struggling offensively, I thought, ‘We’re in trouble here because Milford can put up points in bunches,’” Heaney said. “What’s gotten us to this point has been our defense, so I knew our defense would be good we just had to start scoring.”

The game was a much different story in the first quarter.

Down 2-0 early, Milford scored the game’s next 11 points to take the 11-2 the early lead second quarter.

Dupuis scored all eight first-quarter points for the Spartans, starting with a 3-pointer that went off the backboard and in.

Dupuis then scored a put back off a missed shot the next possession and hit another 3 two minutes later to give Milford an 8-2 advantage.

But once their shots started to fall, the Sabers took over.

Formby-Lavertu snapped the Spartans run with a traditional 3-point play, sparking a 15-0 Souhegan run to end the second quarter to give the Sabers a 17-11 lead at halftime.

Souhegan carried its run into the second half, scoring five of the first seven points of the third quarter.

Made baskets from Dupuis and Taylor Steinbrecher cut the Sabers lead to 24-18, but Formby-Lavertu’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter brought the lead back to nine points at 27-18.

While the two teams have one more meeting at Milford later in the season, Heaney wouldn’t be surprised to see the two teams meet again in the postseason.

“It’s so early in the year, but were pleased because there’s no doubt in my mind Milford’s a final four team,” he said. “They’re so talented, so experienced, so to get that one early is terrific.”

Souhegan 38, Milford 35

Matthew Segul scored a game-high 14 points and Brian Dworkin added nine to lead the Souhegan High School boys basketball team to a 38-35 win over Milford on Friday night.

Jack Briggs made one last 3-point heave to try to tie the game at the buzzer, but fell well short, giving the Sabers the home win. Ross Briggs led the Spartans with 12 points, while Seth Hopkins chipped in 10 of his own.